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Full text of "Flora Indica Vol-I"

FLOBA INDICA.                                   45
is to be placed in such distinctions, and no argument will have any.weight with those
who attach specific value to trifling variations.
To the size and degree of branching, which too often constitute the only disttnc-
tions hetween alpine and lowland plants, and which have, in the genus AguiUgia
as well as elsewhere, been used as specific characters, it is not possible, to attach
much weight. It will be found that size is not accompanied by any constant cha-
racters, but that in this genus, as in most or all of those which are common in al-
pine regions, every variety has its dwarf and tall state. It is well known to gar-
deners that, the species of Aquttegia do not retain their stature in cultivation for any
length of time, but that they become by degrees tall and luxuriant, and totally unlike
their original condition. All the more luxuriant states of A. vulgaris, indeed, are
probably of garden origin, as the wild species in all mountain countries attain n*
great size.
It is, however, upon the shape of the floral organs and the size of the flowers that
specific characters are in general founded. The colour of the flowers has also occa-
sionally been employed as an auxiliary ; but little stress having been laid upon it^
we need only remark that in gardens every colour is common, and that changes
in that respect are known to be produced by artificial circumstances. The colour
of the anthers, which has occasionally been relied on, seems to depend in a great
measure upon the depth of colour of the perianthial leaves, being yellow when they
are white or pale, and leaden or bluish when they are dark.
We cannot find in the published descriptions of this genus that any of the Euro-
pean species have any smell: There can be no doubt, however, that the more al-
pine Himalayan forms growing in dry places are sweet-scented, and that they even
retain their agreeable odour when raised from seed in gardens in this country. At
the same time, these sweet-shelling forms are in no way distinguishable from Eu-
ropean specimens of A. mscosa and A. Pyrenaica, and the odour seems, to depend
on the development of the viscid glands so abundant in such states.
In passing in review the floral organs of the supposed species here reduced to A.
vulgaris, it may be remarked in the first place that, including the straight br hooked
spurs, all the characters derived from them are those of degree only, lie sepals vary
from long acuminate to quite obtuse, and their, size is equally variable, as is also that
of the flowers. In structure there is not even a shadow-of a difference, and characters
derived from proportion allow of the separation of any number of species. The shape
of the inner abortive scariose filaments, the parastemoaes of Heichenbach, has been
relied upon by that author; but they appear to vary very much, and not to be de-
serving of any attention.
If the straight and hooked spurs were a constant character* it would form. an. ad-
mirable specific distinction.- Unfortunately this is by no means the case, as may at
once be seen by examining the diagnoses of authors, in whicji the words subincurved,:
slightly curved, etc., are of common occurrence. On many specimens too, 'perfectly
straight and much incurved spurs may be met with on one plant. Some curiota
instances of the difficulties which beset authors who attempt to retajn all the species
usually distinguished may be mentioned. Reichenbach quotes A, alpina, DC. (charac-
terized by straight spurs, apice su&incurva), under his A, Sternbergii, to which he as-
cribes much incurved spurs (v&lde incurvata)* He is mainly led to this ty the figure
of Delessert, who undoubtedly ought to be supposed to know the plant intended by
De Candolle, hut who represents a specimen with a much hooked spur, without any
indication 'that the diagnosis of the species does not correspond with his figure. * In
like manner Lindley figures' (Bot. Beg. 1847. t. 64) A. leptcceras, Ksek:, raised '
-from seeds sent by the author himself to the Horticultural Society. The plate re-
presents a much incurved spur, while the accompanying description, copied from
Fischer, dwells especially upon the perfectly straight spur as the ^ist^ng^pfei^g mark
of the species.
However paradoxical the views which we have thus expressed may appear to
those who, on the authority of European -systeniatists, have been in the habit of